Saturday, September 26, 2009

NYFF 2009: Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective

Although the expected screening of Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers was canceled on Wednesday, I was able to attend the (surprise) screening of the latest from the (supposed) Romanian New Wave - or Black Wave if you will - Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective.  While Korine's latest was promising to be more than aptly titled (more shock than cinema, much like the arrogantly negative Gummo which acts as precursor of sorts) Porumboiu promised something much much more.  At least that was the idea - and the idea was right on the mark.

Akin to the Eastern European school of cinema (perhaps it should have been Porumboiu who dedicated to Tarkovsky and not von Trier?), Police, Adjective (a title that doesn't become apparent until the penultimate scene) is a film done in long takes and meandering shots and often wordless introspection via methodical, monotonous police procedural.  All this is a good thing by the way.

Porumboiu's second feature, after the hilariously moribund 12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective turns on its proverbial head the idea of police drama.  In an age of Law & Order, The Shield, The Wire, Police, Adjective goes the other way (at least by westernized genre action standards) showing the more mundane aspects of police work (much of the film involves the main detective standing around waiting for someone to do something - to do anything.  Again, this is all good with me.  

The film is getting a US release in December, though I do not see a large audience for the film.   The film is packed with too much procedure and not enough punctuation so to speak.  Though never as powerful as fellow Romanian films of late (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days) it is definitely worthy of a strong audience.   Yet, much like David Fincher's somewhat maligned (or more aptly, overlooked) Zodiac, Porumboiu's film is most likely to go nowhere when it comes to critical standing.  A few top ten list twinklings come year's end, but probably not much more.  I could be wrong though, so in case that happens, allow me now to quote the late great Miss Emily Litella, by closing with "never mind".

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